His research provides context to two cultures that garner a lot of media attention.
“It seems like every time you open the newspaper there is another story about China and people have a lot of questions on their mind,” UCSC assistant professor Ben Read said.
Read attended public school in Beijing when he was 11 and later got his degree in Asian studies. His research started after he came across a publication on resident committees in China.
By learning more about the operations of the resident committees, people can see how different it is from the average community group in America, Read said.
About 25 students attended the event and most of them study history or political science — a number of students attended for an extra-credit opportunity.
Wine and viticulture senior Jenny Shieh, who has visited family in Taiwan and traveled to China, attended the presentation for her Southeast Asian history class.
“It is interesting,” Shieh said. “I have never heard anything about a neighborhood committee before. I went to go visit my relatives (and) they never brought it up.”
Students at the presentation had questions ranging from Read’s research methods to whether he had considered China’s skewed results due to government censoring. He said he had considered this and attempted to conduct interviews individually, and take surveys over the phone and door-to-door to ensure that people had different avenues to contribute.
When he asked people in Beijing what would happen if there were no neighborhood organizations, they overwhelmingly said it would cause big problems. When this same question was asked in Taipei, the majority said there would be minimal problems. However the distribution of responses for how satisfied people were with their neighborhood organization was very similar.
Although there aren’t groups exactly like these in the United States, they can be compared to other organizations in America.
Some of the main responsibilities of community and resident advisers at Cal Poly include planning social events, solving conflicts and supporting the community as a whole — all activities that are shared by the neighborhood leaders in East Asia.
One student in attendance works as a Cal Poly community adviser at Cal Poly. Recreation, parks and tourism administration sophomore Kaitlyn Cutler said she connected with the presentation.
“I could relate (it) to being a adviser. You have to be a community presence,” Cutler said.